From Tap Takeovers to ON TAP!Mar 02, 2021 09:25PM ● By Alexis Mason
Cover Photo by Isaac Mason | Article Photos by Kayley Loved Photography
Khusbu Shaw once said,
“Sometimes the road of life takes an unexpected turn and you have no choice but
to follow it to end up in the place where you were supposed to be. It might
take a year, a week, a day or a minute but what’s meant to be will always find
a way.” That could not be more true for Scott Plemmons, founder of Hoptown Brewing Company. He can certainly attest to the fact that sometimes people find their
passion when they least expect it.
Scott and his wife, Sandy, were both employees at the Lowe's Corporate office located in Mooresville, North Carolina when they met. They lived the corporate lifestyle, worked hard and were business professionals. The first Christmas gift Sandy gave Scott while they were still dating was a complete Home Brew Kit; something they could do together knowing that Scott loved craft beer. Never in a million years did either one think that kit would someday become a full on Brewhouse and taproom.
In the Spirit of Good Fun
Scott explained, “Essentially with a home kit you follow a recipe. We were in the kitchen following the steps and one of us messed up! We are not sure which one, but when we tasted our brew, it was terrible. We bottled the 5 gallons and stored them under the staircase not really thinking about it until several years later as we were packing up to move.” In the spirit of good fun, they decided to open a bottle and see what it tasted like. The duo found that it didn’t taste half bad and actually resembled some craft beers they liked.
After they moved, and a few more years passed, they found themselves in the mountains visiting friends who offered them a bottle of his homemade beer. It was exceptionally good and this inspired Scott to try once again. “I am a competitive person. After tasting their beer I thought, I can do this! I had to basically rebuy and rebuild my brew kit to try again, but this time the results were great right from the start."
From Brew Kit to All Grain
“Our first clients where simply friends that had tasted my beer, liked it, and encouraged me. Around the same time Sandy was opening a yoga studio in Troutman and wanted to serve Scott’s beer on the premise. That began the process of Scott getting his Brewers Notice and ABC License so that he could brew and distribute commercially. ”The process took just shy of a year but once our unique location and set-up met specific criteria this allowed me to have a commercial brewery on the property,” Scott said. “It was really great to be able to roll out of bed and start to brew beer without having to drive to a brewery, but that is definitely changing." Over the course of time, Scott went from the brew kit to an all-grain brewing process. While doing an addition on their property, it was decided to move Scott out of the kitchen and into an actual dedicated brewery. Scott was able to brew a lot of successful batches, and was getting great feedback on his product.
Philanthropy in Their DNA
The brewing company, then called Hootenanny Brewing, began reaching out to bottle shops to sell beer on tap. Additionally, the company participated in events such as tap takeovers and a lot of charity events. Sandy expanded saying, “Philanthropy and giving back is a very important part of our DNA. We have worked with organizations in the past like the YMCA, Pinky Swear, and participated in the Lake Norman Hops Fest to support Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids. We are excited about what we will be able to do once the brewery is open.”
After doing several local tap takeovers, events, and setting the record at Lowes Foods for the amount of beer sold during a single tap takeover, the constant question, “When are you going to open a taproom” only grew. Scott stated, “There has always been a building I have had my eye on, and when it became available, we put forth a business plan and secured our investors, which includes 2 of our children.”
A New Brand Emerged
The now established Hootenanny brand needed to have a name that was more relatable and something they could build a brand presence around. To do this, they enlisted the help of Charlotte based Saturday Branding & Communications and thus, the new name and identity where created
With their group of investors, enough capital was raised to purchase, design, and build their own location. In December of 2019 the project began, however, due to COVID-19 there have been delays in the building process. RDM architecture drew up all of the plans and then handed off the project to Synergy One to execute the construction portion.
Taking Time To Brew
“All of the delays have actually been a blessing in disguise. It slowed things down allowing us the opportunity to watch and learn how breweries were handling business during a pandemic. We had hoped to open post COVID and operate as normally as we could. That is not the case, as a year later it is still an everyday part of all our lives, but we have seen what other breweries have done, and are able to plan ahead and adjust. It looks like we will be opening at 50% capacity and still under a mask mandate: which is extremely doable.” Scott added.
As 2020 rolled on, Scott made the decision to seek a head brewer so that he could remained focused on building the business. “That is when we found Turner” said Scott. Turner Humphries came to Hoptown from Triple C Brewing Company in Charlotte by way of Oskar Blues and a stint with Mad Dog Brewing in Australia; a perfect fit for this entrepreneurial start up.
Scott described how some of the back end brewing affects the brewery’s opening date. “It takes about 6-8 weeks for us to brew enough beer to have an opening lineup. We have a 7bbl system which helps, but we would like to open with at least 6-8 different beers and continue then to add until we get to 14. However; in addition to our beer, we will have other options like wine, prosecco, kombucha, cider and seltzer on tap.
A Community Centered Environment
When we asked Scott and Sandy what the ambiance would be like at their new place they were nice enough to provide us with some insight. “The interior design is meant for the space to feel like a brewery, but have a fun eclectic vibe with a mix of mid-century modern and lots of cool pops of color. We have incorporated an amazing mural painted by Smokey Mountain Mural Company out of Ashville and there is natural wood used for all of our tables, which were made by a local craftsman. There is plenty of seating options both indoors and outside on our patio or out on our picnic tables,” Sandy shared, “I could not have done this without my interior designer Shawna Robinson for sure.” Hoptown Brewing Company is built on three primary pillars. Those pillars include producing great beer, provide great service in a superior environment, and build a strong community. Hoptown’s community centered environment has philanthropy baked in as a huge part of their business model. It’s safe to say that at Connect we are extremely excited for the opening of this awesome new brewery.
Hoptown Brewing invites you to join them to celebrate their Grand Opening Weekend March 25-28, 2021.